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West Des Moines, IA

West Des Moines began its life as a small railroad town called Valley Junction. Incorporated in 1893 and now located at the juncture of Interstate 80 and Interstate 35, the town quickly grew to the thriving metropolitan area it remains today. Known for offering a high quality of life, West Des Moines is still one of the fastest-growing cities in the state of Iowa. The population of West Des Moines is approximately 55,000.

SHOPPING

West Des Moines has taken the shopping industry to a higher level than any of the surrounding communities. Prominent shopping areas include:

  • Jordan Creek Town Center, with two million square feet of shopping, is as upscale and unique as shopping centers found in large metropolitan areas such as Chicago. Along with the two-story enclosed mall, Jordan Creek Town Center also has a three-and-a-half-acre lake with its own boardwalk, walkways, and bike paths.
  • The area surrounding the Lake District is known as The Village, which is a collection of specialty and large retailers in an open-air design.
  • The addition of Jordan Creek Town Center spawned a construction boom that resulted in more shopping options, including the West Glenn Town Center. West Glenn is a miniature city within the city limits of West Des Moines and boasts trendy lofts for rent and sale, unique boutiques, fantastic restaurants, and coffee bars. Events in West Glenn include wine tastings and performances by well-known comedians at the Funny Bone, the only comedy club in the area.

EDUCATION

Education is an important aspect of life in West Des Moines, and the city provides public education to not only its citizens but also the citizens of the nearby cities of Urbandale and Windsor Heights. With nine elementary schools, three junior high schools, an alternative high school, a high school for 9th grade only, and one high school for grades 10 through 12, West Des Moines consistently shows a higher-than-average test score rating for the more than 8,000 students in the community school district. Other educational opportunities for West Des Moines residents include the area's private schools:

  • Dowling High School
  • Iowa Christian Academy
  • Sacred Heart
  • Saint Francis Assisi

In addition to the private schools, there are a variety of local community colleges, state colleges, and universities:

  • University of Iowa
  • Grandview College
  • Drake University
  • Des Moines Area Community College
  • American Institute of Business

NEIGHBORHOODS AND DISTRICTS

The city of West Des Moines has a mostly urban population of more than 55,000. Neighborhoods and districts of West Des Moines accommodate around 21,000 houses, of which more than 19,000 are occupied. Of the occupied houses, more than 60 percent are owner-occupied. The median home price in West Des Moines is much higher than the statewide median price.

Housing in West Des Moines consists of single-family homes, townhomes, mobile homes, lofts, and apartments. From budget-friendly housing options to upscale million-dollar homes, West Des Moines balances housing needs for all of its residents, a fact that is critical to the continued economic growth of the city.

Valley Junction, the original railroad junction on which West Des Moines grew, is a historic neighborhood that has many unusual businesses, including antique shops, art galleries, and gift and floral shops. Side by side with restaurants and general stores, Valley Junction also hosts a farmers market each Thursday night from May through September.

The Village of Ponderosa is a new planned community that features lots of residential housing options, from single family homes to townhomes to condos to lofts.

ECONOMY AND INDUSTRIES

The leading industries are educational, health and social services, and finance and insurance. West Des Moines has a relatively low unemployment rate of 1.7 percent.

Some of the large employers in West Des Moines include Hy-Vee Inc., Care Initiatives Inc., Farm Bureau Financial Services, and the Iowa Foundation for Medical Care.

EVENTS

The multitude of events held annually in West Des Moines continues to promote a city that's popular with residents and tourists alike.

  • A-May-Zing-Days: This event, started in 2008, was created to spotlight the various activities held during the month of May in West Des Moines.
  • Hy-Vee Triathlon: A prestigious triathlon competition that draws athletes from around the world, the Hy-Vee Triathlon for 2008 not only boasted $700,000 in prizes but also a spot on the United States Olympic team.
  • PGA Champions Tour Principal Charity Classic: Glen Oaks Country Club hosts this pro-am event each year. The event draws famous golfers such as Jay Haas, Nick Price, and Tom Kite. Not only is this event a way to spotlight the city of West Des Moines, but it's also a generous benefactor to many charities. In 2007, $575,000 was donated to a variety of "Fore Our Kids" charities.
  • Valley Junction Farmers Market/Music in the Junction: Held on Thursdays from May to September, this popular draw plays host to more than one hundred vendors hawking everything from fresh produce to authentic foods from exotic locations. After the Farmers Market, Music in the Junction features local bands that play for the entertainment of the 3,000 people who typically visit each week.
  • Spring/Fall Art Festival: Historic Valley Junction's Fifth Street plays host to this annual event, in which more than 100 craftspeople and artists showcase their wares in a juried process. Each artisan must submit photographs of his or her inventory and be judged of high enough quality to earn a position in this coveted festival. Items include clothing, pottery, paintings and woodwork.